Last week, the Philadelphia School District's School Reform Commission (SRC), the governing body of the School District, voted to end the district's contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. By doing so, they raised teachers' health care costs claiming the money saved will be funneled directly back into schools. This week, in honor of parent appreciate month, the School District hosted a viewing of Won't Back Down, a film that many perceive to be anti-union and pro-charter.
It was this move that revived mounting resentment among students who claim the film pits families against their teachers and bashes unions. Members of Philadelphia Student Union responded to the SRC's decision to host the film by sitting-in and interrupting the screening in an act of civil disobedience. Chanting, "SOS, save our schools," and, "Philly is a union town," dozens of students made their voices heard. What happened next has left many in shock and dismay.
School Reform Commissioner, Sylvia Simms, responded by shouting at students in an apparent fury. The noise in the video makes it difficult to make out exactly what she says, but students report Simms told them, "you all probably go to failing schools," and, "you belong in jail." Screaming and shouting from Simms could not quell this group of students who remained steadfast in their action.
Simms later responded through twitter stating she would like to hear what the students from Philadelphia Student Union have to say and suggested they meet to exchange perspectives.